Feb 6, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Cam Barker (13) shoots against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Oilers 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks Interested in Defenceman Cam Barker

The Vancouver Canucks may be extending a training camp invitation to former third overall pick Cam Barker, according to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. He will be competing to earn a spot as the team’s seventh or eighth defenceman.

Barker’s agent, J.P. Barry told News 1130 on Tuesday that the Canucks are one of the teams interested in his client.

The defence pairings for the upcoming season is wildly expected to breakdown as Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison and Alexander Edler, and Keith Ballard and Chris TanevAndrew Alberts will figure in as the team’s seventh or eighth defenceman like he has in the previous seasons.

Under head coach Alain Vigneault, the Canucks have carried eight defencemen on their roster, meaning there is still one more spot open.

Once the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, the team will be recalling defenceman Kevin Connauton from the Chicago Wolves for training camp. Connauton is in tough to crack the team’s top-six and will not stay around as a depth player, so the invitation may just end up being customary.

The Canucks signed defenceman Derek Joslin in the summer and it was thought he would challenge for one of the spots on defence this season, but he has not been a strong player with the Wolves this season. It doesn’t appear he will be getting a look from the Canucks coaching staff.

Prior to the lockout, the Canucks kicked the tires on free agent defenceman Jim Vandermeer, but no contract offer was made. Vandermeer expressed interest in joining the team in November feeling his toughness would be beneficial to the Canucks.

There is no secret the Canucks need more toughness, but is Vandermeer an “Alain Vigneault guy?” Vigneault has always favoured the mobile defencemen who can move the puck and Vandermeer is not that type of a player.

Barker is probably more of an “Alain Vigneault guy” with his offensive skill. Barker in his draft year was nearly a point-a-game picking up 65 points in 69 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League. In the NHL, he managed to pick up six goals and 40 points in 68 games with the Chicago Wolves in 2008-09. He hasn’t been able to duplicate that successful season and his professional career is looking like it is on its last legs.

With no NHL contract, Barker signed with the Texas Stars of the AHL in September, but was cut from the team in December—raising some red flags and suggesting lacklustre play.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal wrote this about Barker:

Unless he reinvents himself with the Texas Stars–gets quicker feet, provides more offensive pop, uses his frame (6’3″, 215 pounds) more aggressively–his North American career may be on life support.

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